Bennett Holds First Climate Briefing Ahead of Biden Meeting

Some experts urged PM Bennett to set a more ambitious target for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, sources say

Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron
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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a visit to a clinic in Taibeh, last week.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during a visit to a clinic in Taibeh, last week.Credit: Amir Levy
Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held his first meeting with climate experts on Tuesday, in preparation for his meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday.

Some of the experts who took part in the discussion urged Bennett to set a more ambitious target for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Israel, according to sources.

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Israel has set a target that is lower than other developed nations: A reduction of 27 percent by 2030 and 85 percent by 2050, compared to 50 percent and 100 percent, respectively, in the United States, for example. The experts also urged the prime minister to take action on climate change before the UN Climate Change Conference that will be held in Glasgow in November.

In an overview presented to the prime minister, the first of its kind that Bennett has received, the experts outlined the social, economic and security-related aspects of the climate change crisis whose effects on Israel are already evident and will only intensify. The meeting was set up by the Environmental Protection Ministry, which is headed by Meretz’s Tamar Zandberg. Also present at the meeting, in addition to ministry personnel, were senior professors from Tel Aviv University, and representatives of the Institute for National Security Studies and the RAND Corporation.

Also attending, at Bennett’s request, were five representatives of startups that are working on new environmental developments, and whose inventions will be presented to Biden. Several sources who were present at the meeting said that the prime minister was disturbed by the figures he was shown about global warming, rising sea levels, increasing floods, drought and extreme climate events, and showed interest in holding more discussions on the subject.

Asked to comment, Minister Zandberg said, “The summer of 2021 is a turning point in the understanding of the urgency and intensity of the crisis, and the prime minister understands the issue and is attentive to it.” She added, “The developed nations are entering a new world in which the fight against the climate crisis is leading their economies, and now Israel is joining in the joint effort. Israel will reduce emissions, will produce renewable energies through regional and global cooperation in the fields of energy, food and water, and will be a leader in technological innovation.”

Biden plans to speak with Bennett about the climate crisis and discuss regional cooperation for the development of renewable energies, Haaretz reported on Tuesday, citing a White House source.

The president has put the climate crisis at the top of his administration’s agenda, but at their meeting, Bennett will not easily be able to cite ambitious targets or significant actions taken by Israel. According to sources, one topic Biden plans to discuss with Bennett is the target that Israel has set for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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